Lawmakers Set Sights on Independent Medicare Panel Next Week


Lawmakers Set Sights on Independent Medicare Panel Next Week

Friday, July 8th, 2011 - 7:43
Friday, July 8, 2011 - 07:31
Lawmakers are scheduled to hold hearings before two different committees next week on the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Next week, two House panels will hold hearings on a controversial independent board designed to make cuts to Medicare, according to Politico.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board is made up of unelected officials who will make recommendations to Congress on how Medicare costs should be cut. Congress must then approve the recommended cuts, or come up with its own plan to cut an equal amount.

The independent panel has become one of the biggest targets for the GOP, but also to several Democrats who are supportive of health reform overall but are uncomfortable with the idea of unelected officials making important medical spending decisions.

Politico reports, however, that GOP rhetoric has become so strong -- in some cases, it has become similar to the "death panel" rationing talk that clouded health reform -- that Democrats sympathetic to the cause might get scared off.

The idea behind IPAB is to enable a group of informed people to make decisions about Medicare spending while insulated from the political pressures that make such decisions so difficult for members of Congress. But now that Congress and the Obama administration have begun to talk about tens of billions in Medicare cuts as part of a grand deficit deal, has the impetus behind IPAB become moot?

A deficit deal including Medicare cuts may make some supporters less willing to expend political capital to fight for IPAB's survival.